Urinating outside the litter tray can occasionally be due to a medical problem such as kidney disease or a urinary tract infection, but often it's a behaviour issue called protest elimination, and it is unfortunately quite common, and very frustrating.
Cats often protest eliminate in a very obvious area, such as on a bed, chair or table, to be sure they get their message across.
It is worth remembering that a cat is not trying to get revenge or punish their owners – but they are trying to let you know that they are upset.
Punishing a cat won’t help, the best solution is to do a little detective work to find out the cause of the problem and try to fix it.
As with many behavioural issues in cats, protest elimination is usually the result of anxiety and stress in a cat’s life. Cats are very much creatures of habit, and even simple changes in routine or lifestyle can result in a cat acting out with unusual behaviours.
Common causes include new pets or people in the house, a change in diet, a change in cat litter, changes in household furniture or owners going away for a vacation. Cats are also good at hiding their emotions, and apart from the overgrooming or protest elimination behaviour a cat may seem quite normal, even if they are stressed and agitated on the inside.
The good news is there are a number of ways we can really help anxious cats. Please read Solving Anxiety Issues in Cats for further information.